Thanks to a $5,000 donation from Brodart Co., students at Stevens Primary School embarked on a new reading campaign in the winter of 2014 called Stevens READS, a program aimed at increasing independent reading among students in kindergarten through third grade.
The program with the acronym that stands for "Read, Every Day, Achieve, Discover and Succeed," is a partnership between the district's Title 1 Department, the WASD Education Foundation and Brodart.
The goal of the new program is simple: Get students to read on their own or with an adult on a regular basis. Through Brodart's support, provided to the Foundation via the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC), facilitated by the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania, the district has been able to link students with books and incentives to help increase their independent reading skills.
Students are challenged to read at least 60 minutes a day before, during and after school with a reading log — or "Thinkmark" — to be filled out and validated by a teacher or supervising adult. "Thinkmarks" are submitted for a chance to earn a reward at the end of every two weeks, an extrinsic reward for what "we hope will lead to intrinsic motivation," according to Federal Programs Director Dr. Susan Bigger.
"Our collaborative effort with Brodart and their generous donation has created opportunities for the Stevens students to be recognized an motivated to spend more time reading both at school and at home," said Principal Kirk Felix. "Parent participation is increasing as a result of the program. Due to the incentives, students are pushing the parents to be more involved with reading at home."
"If we can inspire reading early, the chances are better that we will build lifelong readers," Bigger said. "We know there is a strong link between independent reading and reading achievement."
According to Rick Dill, chief financial officer and vice president of Brodart, participating in the EITC program and giving toward the Stevens READS program is a chance "to put money to work locally" and because of the nature of Brodart's work, "we feel very strongly abut literacy and education."